[6 April 2010]
Bands like ISIS and Khanate have earned a lot of respect in the netherworld of metal music, due in no small part to their mastery of celestial and/or funereal doom. So bringing together Aaron Turner, James Plotkin, and Tim Wyskida should theoretically result in the must oppressively awesome collaboration the genre has seen since Sunn0))) and Boris, right? Well, it all comes down to one’s definition of music, because the trio known as Jodis have created a sonic environment so sparse, so desolate, so forsaken that standard terms like “rhythm”, “structure”, and “composition” only apply here in the most abstract of senses. Secret House, furthermore, is the most drudging and dirge-like record I have ever heard, running at a beats-per-minute slower than the average dead person. Aaron Turner plays each jarring note singularly and at drastically spaced intervals, accompanied in time by Plotkin’s bass and the extreme minimalism of Wyskida’s drums. In fact, chances are you want even notice there the percussion at all until the introductory fills of the third track. The overall effect of this is disengaging, giving the impression that one is being haunted by a very strange—and by no means hurried—ghost. To that end Secret House has more in common with a spiritual chant (Turner’s laconic vocals included) than traditional instrument-driven music. I have nothing against doom or sludge in general, but this overpushing of the envelope is a slow atmospheric death that will not appeal to many.